I feel extremely excited to share this blog with you. (Warning: If you hate beautiful rocks then you will dislike this blog. And this may be long.) If you would like to hear a little bit about how my husband and I landed in Arizona, click over to part one of the wedding I shot near Phoenix to read about it. (And here is part two in case you got hooked.)
I’m going to somewhat backtrack to the day we flew into Phoenix. It was a sad day leaving our sweet eight-month-old boy at home with my parents. I think we Facetimed him like three times before we even touched down in Arizona. My heart was sad, but an adventure is what Brandon and I have needed for quite sometime. We still dream of adventure and traveling. We love wheeling our suitcases through long airports and people watching. I love people watching…and hearing all the different languages flying around. It’s beautiful chaos. It’s the butterfly feeling of going to somewhere unseen–breathing new air, photographing different terrain and meeting new people.
We flew into Salt Lake City, Utah. I love Utah! I remember traveling through there as a kid, and it was so unearthly and so unique in its beauty. I was excited for Brandon to see a little of it. (Even though I claimed the window seat.) We flew into a snow storm. Yep, a snow storm. It was blowing like crazy as I stared out the windows of the airport eating my gyro as fast as I could, so not to miss our next flight. As soon as we were about to take off, the storm passed, and it was a blue sky. Crazy.
So we went from a snow storm to landing in 85 degree, dry weather in the desert in Arizona. The giant, tall palm trees greeted my heart. I love palm trees–especially the ones that are crazy tall.
I nearly had a heart attack when I discovered (while surfing the web on the airplane’s WiFi) that there were In & Out Burger joints in Phoenix. Oh, it’s been almost 10 years since I had In & Out, y’all–when I lived in Cali! when I was seventeen! Oh, sweet Jesus! It’s an emotional experience for me. It brings back my teen days and late night runs with my best friends. Anyways… we found one and ate there within the first three hours of landing. We topped it off with a fabulous latte from one of the best in Gilbert, AZ–Liberty Market.
That evening, we hung out and had a dance party with the bride, groom and their families. By the time we left, we had almost stayed up a full twenty four hours. Crazy.
The next day we moseyed around town, eating at a yummy Mexican place and spending time together. Before we left for Arizona, I found a picture online of a chapel in the middle of the desert that I really wanted to visit. It was a museum for the set where the old Elvis Presley movie “Charro” was filmed. It just so happen to be ten minutes from the venue where my wedding was the next day. Brandon took me. It was fabulous…like something you would see out of an old movie. (wink wink)
Let me chat with you about cacti for a moment. These things are legit. The end.
Brandon and I spent some time scoping out a place to shoot the bride, groom and bridal party the next day. We were okay with this location above.
So we spent Saturday shooting Jim and Stacey’s wedding, and it was a dream. Check out the blog posts about it.
Jim so graciously let us borrow his car and drive it two hours away to Sedona, Arizona. Brandon and I set off to celebrate seven years of sweet marriage. And life has changed a lot the last year, so experiencing all we have experienced the last year and now finding ourselves, well, all by ourselves, was odd…yet it didn’t feel all that different. We missed Laef, and we actually didn’t talk about him non-stop like we thought we would. We did Facetime a few times a day, and I spent a lot of time checking in on his baby monotor, watching him play and sleep.
So we set out and drove through deserts. I was overtaken by all the cacti waving “Hi guys!” at us as we drove up mountains and climbed higher and higher.
Brandon and I really had no idea what to expect of Sedona. We had Googled images of the place, and it was breathtaking and beautiful, but seriously…how can you imagine red rocks and staying in a magical bed and breakfast? We drove and drove, through nothing, through deserts, through canyons, through flat land. We turned a corner and up ahead we saw a glimpse of what we were about to experience.
So yes, we arrived. This was the view from our bed and breakfast. A Sunset Chateau (Please check out their lovely inn). A-MAZING! This place was a haven for encounter. Set up to be that. We knew that the owners were Christians, we knew that they had spent some time at a church in Redding, CA that we love. They did not know us, or know anything about us. We walked in the door and was greeted by one of the owners, Janet. We chatted briefly with her and asked how long they had been running their inn. She spoke openly about “God leading them there several years ago.” We smiled and asked her about their time in Redding, CA. She was stunned we knew and immediately it opened our hearts up to talk about the faithfulness of the Lord in all our lives. We had to get going due to booking a Jeep tour, but she wanted us to come to their house and hang out with them at some point.
Brandon was excited! Can you tell? Below is our sweet Chateau, room 14. Gorgeous! Janet (the innkeeper) decorated all 23 of their fabulous rooms.
So this was the next adventure, a Jeep tour, and this was our Jeep.
The Jeep took us up rocky back roads, up to a beautiful view of Sedona’s red rocks. My hair flew in the wind and I held my camera tightly while thanking God for my seat belt. I was flying up and down in the back of that Jeep on these crazy bumpy dirt roads. We watched the sun set and cast its golden light on the majestic rocks. It was breathtaking. So breathtaking.
Brandon and I hit up the hot tub that night, and watched the stars glisten. We always make anniversary resolutions. Our whole trip up to that point had been so perfect, so sweet…like a gentle kiss from Jesus. Everywhere we went, we met someone who encouraged us. We sat in a lot of silence in the hot tub trying to process the preceding four days, which had flown so quickly by. We had seen so much already.
We had a Domino’s Pizza delivered the room and watched a few minutes of Duck Dynasty. Romantic, huh?
Our sweet friends, Janet, Philippe, and their son, Jean Buillet, run a gorgeous, upscale, excellent inn. Sedona is a place for a lot of New Age activity. It’s a place where people go to find an encounter. A Sunset Chateau was miraculously “given” to the Buillets after a word from the Lord that He would give them an inn and it would be a city on a hill, a lighthouse to Sedona. It would be a place of encounter. The inn, which was once a New Age retreat center, was now a gorgeous bed and breakfast at the top of a hill overlooking Sedona. They have spent ten years there and they have story after story of Jesus encountering their guests with His love. People who don’t sleep well sleep incredibly well at their inn. We sat and talked to Philippe at breakfast for over an hour. He invited us to their house that evening after we got back from the Grand Canyon.
Above was one of our fabulous breakfasts. We chatted with this little person too…
I had to post this photo above, because I was so far from home and it made me so happy to see a sign that pointed me to LA. sigh.
So we drove to the Grand Canyon. I had little expectation. I thought we would drive there, peek over the edge, take 500 photos, and go woo-hoo. Nope. Our drive there was beautiful, breathtaking. At one point we pulled over in a field and it was quiet. Nothing. There were hardly any cars…just Brandon and me and this scenery. It was perfect.
Getting into the Grand Canyon took time. There were lines of cars, license plates from every state. We pulled up next to a Carolinian, I rolled my window down and said “WE ARE FROM THE CAROLINA’S TOO!” It took them three weeks to get out there.
As we drew closer, I wanted to be surprised. I didn’t want to catch quick glimpses of it before the big reveal…I wanted to open my eyes and see one of the top wonders of the world. And it was oh so wonderful. Your mind can’t imagine it. There are layers and layers of color and rock. In some areas, it is 18 miles across. My brain exploded after only about the third overlook.
*below is an iPhone photo
We dangled our feet over the edge and toasted to seven years–seven years full of beauty, seven years full of romance, seven years full of the Lord’s sweet kiss over our life. I never would have dreamed that I would be dangling my feet over the Grand Canyon a week before my seventh wedding anniversary. I have a son, and that is crazy. So much happened in our seventh year. What a dream!
*Below is an iPhone photo.
*Below- Yep…. Loooooong arms.
Ok, so here is the part I’ve been waiting to share. We are driving away from the canyon on an Indian reservation, full moon…
Push play on this video and let it play….
…and you can see the rim of the canyon on the left…
…and on the right…
At that point a worship song came on in the car with the words “…because your love is so much sweeter, than anything I’ve tasted, I want to know your heart…” and I started sobbing. I felt Jesus kiss my soul. I don’t know how to describe the emotions of this trip, because it has been a month ago, and so much has happened. But I can say that this was the sweetest moment of all the moments I’ve experienced in a long time. Just last month, I celebrated my best friend adopting a baby (we drove to FL and threw her a shower), my Grandmother died a week before this trip, (I had to experience her funeral, and watch my Grandpa go through the loss of his wife of 58.5 years), I’ve flown to the deserts to work and to celebrate my marriage… and here I am passing the Grand Canyon and these mountains and through it all, His love has ravished my heart, it’s taken me over, and I’m undone. Again. I just couldn’t take it. It was was like a gorgeous painting just for me.
Sweet conversations all the way home. Brandon chatted about his passion for the Lord and how his heart longed to be used by the Lord again. That was sweet, oh so sweet.
We made it to Janet and Philippe’s home and stayed up late by the fire talking to this amazing family about our journey with the Lord. They told us their story. It was all so perfect. I remembered that I had had a dream a month or so before this that I was watching a video of their home and we were all sitting around their fire place. So crazy.
This is them below.
After breakfast that morning we all gathered around a table and prayed for one another. Sigh.
I took some photos of the Inn for you all to see. Coffee, views and a hot tub. yes.
We ended our time at the Crescent Moon Park in Sedona, where we hiked almost to the top.
Driving back to Phoenix…
We stayed with our new friend, Leslea. She took us to dinner and we got to know her. She is a beautiful soul. (Read my blog post from the wedding!)
And so after a week away, we flew home…
And we were so happy to see this beautiful boy…
So to tie it all up, wow…. just wow. So much beauty in a week! So many beautiful things done in our hearts! So many emotions in March! It was March Madness. There’s so much I wish I would have journaled a month ago. It was a dance of emotions throughout the last month. I haven’t shared my blog post about my Grandmother yet… Trying to decide. It’s very special to my soul. March was very intimate, very special, very rare and very beautiful. Bitter and sweet.
Thanks for reading.